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Aug 10, 2021

Caye Caulker Fights Back Against Sargassum Invasion

It had fallen off the radar for some time as the COVID-19 pandemic took center stage in the national discourse, but sargassum continues to impact tourist hotspots in the country. On a visit to Caye Caulker today, News Five’s Duane Moody looked at the situation on the island.


Duane Moody, Reporting

It’s an annual challenge for which the Government of Belize had created a taskforce to address the invasion of large brown seaweed, better known as sargassum, along the Belizean coast. Pristine white sandy beaches in prime tourist destinations have been lined with huge mats of sargassum.


Seleny Villanueva-Pott

Seleny Villanueva-Pott, Chairlady, Caye Caulker Village Council

“It doesn’t look pretty of course and it doesn’t smell nice either. It is very pungent. What we have noticed though is that the sargassum that is in the water the longest is the one that starts to create the odour. So the guys have devised a plan where every three days they take out the one at the shore. We had our team work all over the weekend to try and keep it under control. It had stopped, but it is beginning to come back in so we have to derive out plan where the staff has to get out on weekends and do the necessary labour. For a while it was calm and nice and quiet, but we noticed that maybe last week, it started back up again.”


When it first found itself along the shore of Caye Caulker, the council collaborated with the Belize Tourism Board to remove the seaweed from the beaches. It’s a costly expense, which Chairlady Seleny Villanueva-Pott says the council has been taking on because this tourism-based community has already been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Seleny Villanueva-Pott

“Like COVID-19, sargassum is here to stay and it is something that we have to adapt to. We were blessed that we were gifted with a machine from a B.T.B. project and that’s the machine that we do a lot of beach cleaning with; it works really well. When the sargassum flow is heavy, we have to have two trucks on standby to be able to keep up with the mechanical power of the machine. That’s really what has been helping us. We notice that with the installation of seawalls though, it really poses a problem because the machine is big and it’s not able to manoeuvre into the areas where the seawalls are. Again, these are things that we need to take into consideration.”


As part of its mitigation efforts, the sargassum that is removed and used by island residents for various purposes.


Seleny Villanueva-Pott

“A lot of the people in the Bahia area use it as landfill. It is put back and some people also use it at home as a fertiliser. So it works well and we’re glad that we have uses for it. It works out nice. Once the guys take it to the different areas, the people leave it for a while to dry and then cover it up with sand as landfill.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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